Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2011

Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs

Synopsis

Glenn Close gives an Oscar-nominated performance as a cross-dressing butler in 19th-century Ireland.

About

There's very little more melancholy in the film world than a long-nurtured passion project that doesn't quite work, and such is the lot of Albert Nobbs. It's a great concept for a film. The story - a woman passes as a man working as a butler in 19th century Ireland - is unusual and original. The character at the film's heart ought to be a gift too. Highly repressed, yet obviously on some level incredibly intrepid, there are potentially all sorts of conflicting neuroses to play with.

And yet, somehow, it doesn't come together, despite obvious genuine effort from all involved. Perhaps the effort is part of the problem; it's all rather laboured, when what you want is to be able to take the character to heart as a character, rather than as a waxen cipher for the social problems faced by women in eras past.

To take another famous example of "passing" in film, Dil from The Crying Game elicited our sympathy seemingly effortlessly, whereas Albert makes for such an ineffectual hero/heroine, that even his/her eventual fate can't really summon the required audience emotion. Not all cross-dressing has to be explicitly sexy, or about the sex itself, but (bar an extraordinary bosom-baring from one character which doesn't so much steal the scene as smother it) this film seems so primly frightened of exploring anything in that line, that it's almost rather perverse.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Glenn Close, Aaron Johnson, Mia Wasikowska
  • Director: Rodrigo Garcia

In a nutshell

File under interesting failure, although with three Oscar nominations (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Costume), there must surely be people out there somewhere convinced by this relentlessly tasteful affair.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Suffragette

    Suffragette

    Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter star in Sarah Gavron's drama about the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement

  • Film4 Notorious

    Notorious

    The story of the life and death of Chris Wallace, known to his fans as the legendary rap artist Notorious B.I.G.

  • Film4

    Saoirse Ronan on Arrietty

    The actress talks about lending her voice to the Studio Ghibli adventure

  • Film4 Hope Springs

    Hope Springs on Film4

    Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star as a married couple who turn to Steve Carell's therapist for help with spicing things up in David Frankel's authentic comedy-drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: Welsh Premiere Announced

    [caption id="attachment_4385" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance[/caption] Sundance Award winner Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story Of Dream A

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Bobcat Goldthwait on God Bless America

    "To me, the best part about being famous is taking down phonies..." As God Bless America receives its UK TV premiere on Film4, writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait (World¿s Greatest Dad, Willow Creek) lo

Rent now on Film4od

Available to rent for £2.49

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share